As we’ve been navigating through our professional and personal lives during the Covid-19 lockdown, some fitness enthusiasts have also been driving home an important point: the importance of health and fitness. Physical fitness is not just crucial for a healthy body but imperative for a healthy mind and emotional wellbeing. While there are go-getters who always make the most of the situation at hand, and more so during quarantine when the world is finding ways to stay motivated through social media, writing, reading, binge-watching and probably even working on one’s sleep cycle, an important aspect of good health once again. Even though laziness seems the new normal amidst others ‘newness’ that staying at home has brought, there’s no substitute to self-care and fitness in every way – physical, mental and emotional.
Physical exercise has obvious benefits for the body. But did you know that moving your body and breaking a sweat also improves your mood, alleviates depression and aids cognitive abilities? That rush of endorphin and dopamine when you finish a challenging yet satisfying workout are just what you need to stay mentally and emotionally fit.
Various Facebook groups namely Fittr, Fitness2Flash, Apurvaa Yoga, Yoddhas – Indians Fighting Against Cancer, Ketogenic Diet India and even several celebrity-run and institution-run pages are working towards a healthy community that goes above and beyond being connected virtually. These Facebook pages have found an increased audience as everyone, however fit they’ve been previously, have taken to working out together while practising social and physical distancing and keeping their motto of staying fit in mind.
“COVID-19 has upended the lives of billions of people around the world. As this global public health crisis advances and more people are physically separated from their communities, we hope connecting with people on Facebook, makes it easier for people to stay home, healthy and safe,” says Facebook spokesperson.
What’s more, you don’t need a gym for this. You can get a great workout right in the comfort of your home.
Benefits of working out at home:
Home workouts are a great substitute for your gym sessions. There are a number of different types of home workouts/exercises:
A) Using your bodyweight alone
B) Using basic equipment such as Dumbbells, Resistance Bands/Tubes
C) Using everyday household items such as backpacks, water bottles, buckets and even brooms
It’s a good idea to start with basic bodyweight exercises and gradually add progressions and increase the intensity. This way, the difficulty levels are increased slowly which helps you break a sweat and strengthen your muscles while also avoiding injuries. You can add a mix of push-ups (regular and advanced), circuit training (a series of exercises in rapid succession with little or no breaks in between) and more.
How to work out your body’s upper, lower and core areas:
Home workouts can be categorised into 3 main groups: Upper Body, Lower Body, and Core. Read on for a step-by-step explainer on each focus area and how to exercise it.
Step 1 –Lay on the floor facing downwards, palms slightly more than shoulder-width apart in line with your shoulders. This is your starting position.
Step 2 – Brace your core and push your torso up from the floor with your hands. Thighs and Knees will also raise up.
Step 3 – Push yourself up till your elbows lock and your whole body is in a straight line
Step 4 – Lower your body and return to the starting position. This is 1 rep of the Push-up.
Push-ups may appear deceptively simple but they can really pack a punch and help you sculpt your body, particularly your upper body and core. The action of pushing your bodyweight off the floor makes for a great resistance workout for your arms, shoulders and pecs/chest. In addition, you have to tighten your core to stabilise your posture which has the added advantage of working on your abs.
Step 1 – Raise your arms and grip the pull-up bar with both hands placed slightly more than shoulder-width apart
Step 2 – Pull your body up till your chin is above the bar
Step 3 – Straighten your arms and lower your body till the arms and shoulders are fully extended. This is 1 rep.
1. Bodyweight Sumo Squats
Step 1 – Stand with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out
Step 2 – Raise your arms in front of you for balance
Step 3 – Keeping your head and torso upright, inhale and lower your body as you bend your knees. Make sure to go down till your thighs are parallel to the floor
Step 4 – Hold for a second and with force, push your body up. Exhale at the top. This is 1 rep.
2. Bodyweight lunges
Step 1 – Stand with your torso upright, hands on your hips
Step 2 – Chest out, head up, knees slightly bent
Step 3 – Take a step forward with your left leg, sufficiently wide but not too much
Step 4 – As you step forward, bend your left knee and lower your right knee to the floor till it almost touches it. Left thigh should be parallel to the floor.
Step 5 – Push yourself up to starting position and now, take a step forward with your right leg. Repeat.
Step 1–Lie down flat on the floor, face down
Step 2 – This is similar to the Push-up starting position but with elbows and forearm touching the floor
Step 3 – Keep fit slightly apart and come up on your toes
Step 4 – Tighten your core, relax your neck and hold this position for as long as possible. Remember to breathe normally.
Apart from physical fitness, it’s important to take care of ones mental and emotional well-being in times of crisis.
Keeping mind healthy during lockdown:
Yoga and Meditation are an excellent way to rejuvenate the spirit and keep calm, especially in such times.
Simple Hatha Yoga poses (asanas) are a great way to stretch the body as well as relax your mind. Now’s a great time to incorporate Suryanamaskar into your daily routine. Suryanamaskar engages and awakens the full body. To get a really good workout from Yoga, try doing a series of Suryanamaskars in rapid succession. 10 minutes of Surya Namaskar daily helps burning 139 calories, which is more than what you’d burn even after swimming for 10 minutes. Surya Namaskar, also known as ‘The Ultimate Asana’, strengthens your back as well as your muscles and brings down blood sugar levels. It also improves metabolism and blood circulation (hence, a glowing skin) and ensures regular menstrual cycle for women.
There are also numerous asanas, both standing and sitting, that open up your joints and work your tendons.
Meditation or Dhyana is a core limb of Yoga. Find a quiet spot, sit with your spine erect and close your eyes. Let the mind stay alert and active while you let the thoughts recede. Start your day with meditation and you’ll cultivate a fresh mind and body. This is the perfect way to calm a restless mind and reconnect with yourself.
You can also try Guided meditation through content available on YouTube (including Sadhguru’s guide via The Isha Foundation), Spotify and meditation apps such as Headspace or Calm to name a few.
The best part of it all: you’re at home and you’re working on staying healthy, which is the first part toward battling any health-related ailments and lifestyle disorders.
— Exercise inputs provided by Mr Jitender Chouksey, founder of Fitter, an online fitness company.